What is Conservation?

The study of how to prevent the loss of biological diversity on the planet is called conservation. Biological diversity, also termed biodiversity, consists of various life forms found in a specific location or across the entire planet, including ecosystems, species, populations, and genes. Conservation thus aims to protect the diversity of life at all levels of biological organization.

Overview of Conservation Biology

Conservation biology is a subfield of ecology concerned with the preservation and management of nature, biodiversity, and natural resources. Conservation biology has managed nature and the Earth's biodiversity to protect species, their habitats, and ecosystems from extinction and the erosion of biotic interaction. Conservation biology is the science of sustaining an evolutionary process that engenders genetics, species, population, and ecosystem diversity. Conservation biology is concerned with phenomena that affect biological diversity, ecology health, and ecological integrity, as well as their maintenance, loss, and restoration. Ecology and conservation biology are closely related to the branch of biology. The ecosystem is the interconnectedness of different organisms with each other and their environment. Conservation biologists are interested in learning about the distribution of life on the planet, the threats to life, and what can be done to eliminate threats and restore an ecosystem's health and diversity. Conservation biologists are responsible for identifying and assisting endangered species, as well as preventing accelerated extinction rates. The primary consideration in conservation biology is the long-term preservation of entire biological communities, with economic factors usually being a secondary consideration. It also aids in the maintenance of evolutionary processes involving population, genetic, and ecosystem diversity variation.

The figure represents the interdisciplinary nature of conservarion biology
CC BY-SA 4.0 | Image Credits: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org | Assar

Three main goals of conservation biology

  • Estimating the impact of humans on biological diversity.
  • To develop practical methods for preventing species extinction.
  • To investigate the effects of human activities on species, communities and the environmental system.

Human impacts on ecosystem

The biodiversity of the planet has been under threat from human activity. This is because human population growth has been exponential in the past, meaning that the rate of expansion has remained constant regardless of population size. As the population grows greater, this causes it to increase even quicker. Humans alter the natural flow of energy in the environmental system and change the distribution and quantity of abiotic components includes water and minerals. The impacts of humans on the ecosystem are divided into two categories, they are, positive and negative. In positive human impacts on the environmental method, it reduces the number of pollutants that enter the soil, air, and water. Wildlife preserves and national parks protect scores of ecosystems globally. Environmental protection laws and management programs have a positive effect on the worlds ‘ecosystem when enforced. Negative impacts of humans on the environment that is pollution. Pollution is something introduced into the environmental system that is the dirty, unclean, or harmful effect. Air, water, and soil pollutions are the major pollution.

Introduced species

Humans are responsible for the planned or unintentional introduction of thousands of new species through global travel and trade. The wind is also another way to introduce invasive species in the new environmental system.


Extinction is the termination of an organism. It has always occurred for a variety of reasons. As the environmental changes species will need to adapt or they will become less fit and may disappear. It mainly takes place in the tropical rainforest which has the most species per unit area on the land of organisms. Human activities lead to the extinction and endangerment of wild species. Deforestation, hunting, and agricultural cultivation are lead to species extinction.

What is Biodiversity?

The term biodiversity was coined by Walter G . Rosen in 1986. The biosphere comprises a complex collection of innumerable organisms called biodiversity, which constitutes vital life support for the survival of the human race. Biodiversity includes mainly three levels, they are:

Genetic diversity

Genetic diversity refers to the diversity within a species. The greater the genetic diversity, the higher is the chance of long-term survival. The wide range of the different gene sets allows an individual or the whole population to have the capacity to endure environmental stress in any form.

Species diversity

The number of various species present in an environment, as well as their relative abundance, is referred to as species diversity. Diversity is greatest when all of the species present are equally widespread in the area, species diversity is made up of two components, they are species richness and species evenness. Species richness is the number of various species that can be found in a given habitat. For instance, because of the suitability of the environment, the tropical areas are said to be species-rich. Species evenness means that individuals of each species are in relative abundance. It is shown to have high evenness if the number of individuals within a species is largely stable throughout communities, while it is shown to have poor evenness if the number of individuals fluctuates from species to species. When there is a great level of evenness, there may be a lot of species diversity.

Ecosystem diversity

Ecosystem refers to a variety of habitat, dynamic complexes of plant, animal, and microorganism communities and their non-living environment, which interact as a functional unit and change over time.

Hot spots of biodiversity

Hot spots are the regions of extremely high species richness, exceptionally greater species diversity, much higher degree of endemism, and most seriously threatened flora and fauna and rapid modification, degradation, or loss of habitat. They are good examples of evolutionary speciation and natural extinction. Hot spot as selected as a priority area for the in-situ conservation of biodiversity. For in-situ conservation usually, 25 terrestrial hot spots have been identified globally. There is a total of 36 hotspots in the world. There are two hot spots in India; they are western Ghats and the Eastern Himalayas. These have a rich biodiversity.   

Major threats to Biodiversity

Natural as well as anthropogenic or artificial factors can cause severe threats to biodiversity.

Natural threat

Natural threats include natural catastrophes, incudes flood, drought, earthquake, volcanic eruption, wildfire, storms, epidemics, climatic changes, etc.

Anthropogenic threat

The anthropogenic threat includes degradation, fragmentation, overexploitation, shifting cultivation, deforestation, pollution, indiscriminate pesticide use, widespread urbanization, unplanned economic growth, etc.

What is Biodiversity Conservation?

The preservation and management of biological diversity to obtain resources for long-term development are referred to as biodiversity conservation. Biodiversity conservation mainly involves three objectives they are:

  • To preserve the diversity of species.
  • Sustainable utilization of species and ecosystem.
  • To maintain life-supporting systems and essential ecological process.

To ensure the future survival of endangered species, two basic approaches have been suggested in biodiversity conservation strategies, they are:

In-situ conservation

In-situ conservation is also referred to as on-situ conservation. It means that the conservation of plants and animals in their natural environment. National parks, sanctuaries, and sacred grooves are examples of in-situ conservation.

Ex-situ conservation

Conservation of animals and plants outside their natural habitats is ex-situ conservation. Botanical gardens, zoological parks, and seed banks are examples of ex-situ conservation.

Management and Conservation biology of wildlife

The management and conservation biology of wildlife is the maintenance of the quality of environmental protection. The major objectives of conservation biology are:

  • Preservation of ecology's stability and equilibrium, as well as natural balance.
  • Preservation of the breeding stock of wild species.
  • Preservation and propagation of biotic communities.
  • Conservation of the natural gene pool and genetic diversity. This is essential for artificial breeding programs and genetic manipulation.
  • Natural resources are recycled and used in a sustainable manner to support rural communities and major industries.

Context and Applications

This topic is important in professional exams such as graduate and postgraduate levels, especially for bachelors of zoology, wildlife management, and bachelors of ecology.

Practice Problems

Question 1: Conservation biology _____________.

1.  Is involved in the extinction of plant species

2.  Is concerned about the extinction of plant and animal species

3.  Aims at preserving and restoring the global biodiversity

4.  Attempts to introduce as many new species as possible

Answer: Option 3 is correct.

Explanation: Conservation biology is concerned with preserving and restoring global biodiversity. The study of the genetics, species, population, and ecosystem diversity that evolves as a result of evolutionary processes is recognized as conservation biology.

Question 2: Which of the following options is not a current biodiversity threat?

  1. Climate change
  2. Habitat destruction
  3. Overexploitation
  4. Bioremediation

Answer: Option 4 is correct.

Explanation: Bioremediation is a method of treating contaminated media, such as water, soil, and underground material, by adjusting environmental conditions to encourage microorganism growth and degradation of the target pollutants.

Question 3: The number of ecology hotspots in world __________.

  1. 16
  2. 20
  3. 36
  4. 34

Answer: Option 3 is correct.

Explanation: In the world, there are 36 biodiversity hotspots, each of which is stunning, unique, and full of life. Plants, animals, and other living beings that inhabit these habitats are uncommon, and many of them can only be found in these specific geographical areas.

Question 4:  The integration of several sciences, such as ecology and genetics, to preserve biological diversity at all levels is recognized as____________.

  1. Conservation biology
  2. Ecology
  3. Restoration ecology
  4. Bioremediation

Answer: Option 1 is correct.

Explanation: Conservation biology is the application of several sciences, such as ecology and genetics, to the preservation of biological diversity on all scales.

Question 5: The three levels of biodiversity are _____________.

  1. Genetics, biome, species
  2. Molecular, species, ecosystem
  3. Genetics, species, ecosystem
  4. Genetics, population, species

Answer: Option 3 is correct.

Explanation:  Biodiversity is important because an increase in species extinction can lead to the collapse of the entire ecosystem. Genetics, species, and ecosystem biodiversity are the three main levels of biodiversity.

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